Tag Archives: science

The Climate of Dinosaur Science

I have not yet grown out of my “dinosaur phase,” though I must confess that this transition point seems overdue. I’m happy with the current status, at least. But my interest in dinosaur science, like my interest in climate science, goes back several decades. During those decades, I’ve largely made a living in the software/technology field in connection with Microsoft products. And I’ve written about problems in dinosaur research and assertions.

In this story, all of those arenas collide: A software guy from Microsoft digs into dinosaur research, and discovers that paleontology scientists can act exactly like climate scientists. Or like dinosaurs, perhaps.

All the symptoms are there:

  • The graphs and charts and equations are visibly wrong
  • The scientist no longer has the data
  • When challenged, he was not cooperative
  • He worked to stop the challenge to his work from being published, despite admitting that it was correct
  • He cited social reasons as part of his rationale: The challenge “stands to drive a wedge between labs that are currently cordial with one another.”

Sounds like catastrophist climate, in spades. Each of these elements is common when catastrophist scientists are challenged on their work, even when they privately admit to each other the merits of the challenges.

To their credit, some of the co-authors of the dinosaur growth paper were more helpful. It would be more difficult for them were government agencies and multi-million-dollar revenue streams relying upon the details remaining unexamined.

===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

Chicken of Turkey

A brief note on a telling dichotomy:

When the left describes something they don’t like about Christianity or Judaism, they are not shy about it.  They’ll even pin bombings or shootings on “Christian terrorists” or “Tea party” people ( which to many on the left seems synonymous), before any evidence is in hand at all. But they are often strangely gently and circumspect when it comes to handling Islam: Continue reading

dna-double-helix-marc-phares

Soft storage

This article caught my attention, and combines my interests in bioscience, computer science,  and Shakespeare:

London, January 24 (ANI): Researchers have downloaded all 154 of Shakespeare’s sonnets on to synthetic DNA in a breakthrough that could lead to major advances in computer storage.

Scientists were then able to decode the information and reproduce the words of the Bard with complete accuracy.

The same technique made it possible to store a 26 second excerpt from Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have A Dream’ speech and a photo of the Cambridgeshire laboratory where the work took place.

Researchers were also able to turn a copy of Watson and Crick’s paper describing the nature of DNA into genetic code.

This opens up possibilities for non-powered storage of extremely high density — “Library of Congress in a teaspoon”-type density.

Now, how small can the reading/writing apparatus be?  This sounds like a job for nanoengineering, and of course it has already been that.

===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

California Prop 37: GMOs

California has a proposition on the ballot that hopes to affect food costs for the entire country.  Proposition 37 would require new labeling for certain foods that involve genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.
Here’s an article touting the dangers of GMOs, and promoting the proposition.  The “evil corporation” theme dominates this sort of article.

Frankly, I’m not a fan of this proposition.  Besides various falsehoods in the article (e.g., conflating all money spent over time with money spent specifically on the proposition), the legislation itself is terrible. Here’s what I see at a quick glance in the text of the proposition:

  • It allows anyone to sue — even law firms themselves — without being required to allege actual harm. A bounty for bounty-hunting lawyers.
  • It takes effect immediately — meaning there is no time to actually implement label changes before the lawsuits start.
  • The cost of “investigation” may be awarded to the plaintiff even if the plaintiff loses.  (The bill doesn’t specify that winning the suit is required.)
  • Livestock fed with GM corn seem to be exempt, and other secondary uses. I’ll bet that’s not well-understood by proponents.
  • Organic farms — the source of hundreds of actual deaths due to their poor practices — are completely exempt from this proposition.
  • You can have ten different GMO components making up to 10% of the produced result and still not have to label it.
  • There are various other odd exemptions.
  • It is rigged to be unremovable — and allows changes with a two-thirds vote, “but only to further its intent and purpose.”  Very strange.

And, of course, all of this would produce substantially higher food costs immediately, essentially taxing the poor to pay for this trial lawyers’ dream.

GM foods that are actually problems should be dealt with, though so far the evidence is not as strong as it is for things like okra and peanuts. But anyone familiar with the gargantuan bureaucracy of federal regulations should be disinclined to expand it. Consider how bizarrely they treat even the handling of eggs, for example — spread across multiple bureaucratic fiefdoms, all at our expense.

This is written for the benefit of attorneys, not the public, and protects the sacred cow of organic farming. I will vote against California Proposition 37.

===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

High Voice

I was asked yesterday about the “surly bonds of Earth” reference in the post about Neil Armstrong’s death.  There is indeed a story behind that and a very unusual young man.

John Gillespie McGee Jr. was born in Shanghai to a US ambassador, thus was American. His initial school was in Shanghai, “The American School” there — no doubt he was fluent in multiple languages by the time he left around age 10. As a boy in the US in the Rugby School, he became fascinated with poetry. And when war broke out in Europe, he was ready — but the US was not. In 1940, he enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force, and wound up eventually in the UK flying Supermarine Spitfires protecting London from bombing attacks.

On December 8, 1941, the US joined World War II officially after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Three days later, McGee and two squad mates were diving together through an opening in the clouds near London, only to have a trainee suddenly appear in their path.  In the collision, McGee’s aircraft was badly damaged, and he was unable to get out before the craft struck the ground. Witnesses suggested that he’d just gotten the canopy open.  He was 19.

Weeks before, across the back of a letter to home, McGee had scrawled this text after a particularly inspiring flight: Continue reading

The Cats Trying to Kill Curiosity

I was delighted, as were millions, by the successful touchdown of the Curiosity rover on the surface of Mars.  It was a monumental achievement, of equipment working right (thanks to tremendous engineering and science) despite nearly a year’s exposure to extraordinary conditions and extremes in rapid succession. But as Sam Rayburn (48th, 50th, and 52nd Speaker of the House) notes, “Any jackass can kick down a barn. It takes a good carpenter to build one.” We’ve seen NASA in the role of “good carpenters” here. Who’s the “jackass”? Continue reading

Mars the Record of Nuclear Power

Tonight — 10:31 Pacific Time Sunday, or 1:31 AM Eastern on Monday — the Curiosity rover will hopefully touch down safely on the surface of Mars.  The events actually take place about 14 minutes in advance, but we cannot know the results until the radio communications get from Mars to Earth. The vehicle is big. While the two famous rovers Opportunity and Spirit were roughly grocery-cart sized, this one is more like an automobile. It has tremendously greater science capability — and it is too big, and needs too much power, to operate from solar panels.  So it does not: Curiosity is nuclear-powered. Continue reading

Science Saturday: Building a jellyfish

In this case, the jellyfish was not built from scratch. They took the cells from a rat heart and equipped a silicone shell with them, set up in a protein structure in the manner of a jellyfish. This construct actually swims!

Artificial jellyfish built from rat cells

As the samurai said of the fly, “ah, but it cannot reproduce” — still, it is a useful platform upon which to test heart drugs.

The researcher describes his work as “engineering,” contrasting it with most tissue work which he describes as “arts and crafts.”

In the Nature article, they describe their ambition to go after octopuses in the future. I confess that I am less excited about that; I’ve got rather an affinity for that odd, intelligent creature.

===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle